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Canada's men's soccer team will play vs. Curacao amid compensation dispute

Steve Russell / Toronto Star / Getty

Canada's men's soccer team will take the pitch for its CONCACAF Nations League match against Curacao on June 9 despite an ongoing compensation dispute with Canada Soccer, the federation announced.

After refusing to play in Sunday's World Cup warmup game against Panama, the players returned to training Monday.

Had they continued their strike and missed Thursday's game at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada Soccer would have faced a fine of at least $100,000 for withdrawing less than 30 days before kickoff.

The team said it met with senior leaders of Canada Soccer on Sunday night but couldn't reach an agreement over a new deal.

Further meetings are scheduled to find a "resolution," the federation said in a separate statement.

The players publicly criticized Canada Soccer in an open letter ahead of Sunday's friendly, taking issue with, among other things, the distribution of prize money from FIFA for reaching the men's World Cup for the first time in 36 years. The men also questioned the federation's ties with Canadian Soccer Business, a company that controls all of its broadcast and commercial rights, accusing it of handcuffing the team's ability to generate more revenue.

Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis suggested at a news conference that the players had asked for as much as 100% of the estimated $10 million in prize money, calling their proposal "untenable as written." The players' open letter includes a request for a 40% share.

Bontis also defended Canada Soccer's deal with CSB, which signed a 10-year agreement with the federation in 2018. Scott Mitchell, chairman of CSB, claimed his organization had invested "tens of millions of dollars" in Canadian soccer and guaranteed revenue that "previously did not exist" in the country.

Players for the Canadian women's soccer team joined the call for more transparency around CSB, which is run by the owners of the Canadian Premier League. The women said in a statement Sunday it's negotiating its own agreement with Canada Soccer to achieve equal pay.

The men's list of requests included calls for an "equitable" pay structure with the women's team and the development of a women's domestic league.

However, the women said it didn't view a percentage of prize money as equitable. FIFA dished out $400 million to the 32 men's teams that played in the 2018 World Cup, significantly more than the $30 million it allocated to the 24 teams that competed at the women's edition in 2019.

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